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about 4 hours ago

"Poland hosts performers and lecturers from across the globe in local festival of art, science, politics and philosophy. The opening act: a lecture on Jewish sports. "

about 5 hours ago

"Visiting Israel, a group of Poles who grew up knowing nothing of their Jewish origins comes face-to-face with their history and heritage. "

about 8 hours ago

"Recent debates about women and the Orthodox rabbinate yielded a range of interesting, impassioned and also banal observations by various Jewish professionals and laypeople. Although sociological and legal arguments abound, a broader philosophical discussion of the nature of gender roles within Judaism is lacking. The assumption in these debates seems to be that the challenge before us is how this issue in Judaism will play out alongside a movement from inequality to equality, from backwardness to progress, in American or Western society. Those who resist this movement and believe that a straightforward march toward gender egalitarianism is neither desirable nor in the spirit of traditional Judaism have yet to articulate what, precisely, a theory of Jewish gender difference could, and should, look like. That is, with the exception of a small coterie of mystically inclined haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, women based in Israel who have been exploring precisely this question for years

An outstanding contribution to this genre is “Circle, Arrow, Spiral” by Miriam Kosman. Kosman is a doctoral student at Bar-Ilan University and also the mother of eleven children who lives in a haredi community in B’nei Brak, Israel. Her father is Rabbi Moshe Eisemann, the former longtime mashgiach ruchani of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore. Kosman lectures regularly for the international Jewish outreach organization Nefesh Yehudi. “Circle, Arrow, Spiral” is possibly the only book in the universe that could contain glowing book-jacket blurbs from both Rabbi Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel Rabbinical College and member of the Council of Torah Sages of the Agudath Israel of America, and Dr. Ronit Ir-Shai, Chair of the Gender Studies program at Bar-Ilan and a prominent Jewish feminist activist.

The book draws on Jewish sources, particularly Kabbalistic ones, as well as second-wave feminist theory, postmodern thought, contemporary psychology and sociology, and offers a sweeping theory of gender as it manifests itself in Judaism. For Kosman, the traditional Jewish conception of male and female roles is not a challenge to be overcome, rather it represents a sophisticated and delicate framework for enabling the “female force” to manifest itself within individual relationships and within history more broadly. Obscuring the difference between men and women in the service of egalitarianism or other contemporary trends may actually have a counterproductive effect as it could, according to Kosman, serve to silence the feminine voice. Not all of Kosman’s conclusions will sit well with every reader, but her book is critical reading for anyone who is invested in the Jewish intellectual tradition and uncomfortable with facile dismissals of its wisdom when it comes to gender in the modern world.

At the heart of the book is a mysterious midrash, from the Talmudic tractate of Chullin, which also forms the basis of another book about gender and Judaism called “The Moon’s Lost Light” written under the pen name Devorah Heshelis (who is apparently a close friend of Kosman’s). The translation I use is one that Kosman borrowed from Heshelis."

about 8 hours ago

"If you want to smash the gender binary (by, for example, giving transpeople a comfortable place to pee), Judaism can feel like an odd fit. The obligation to observe commandments is traditionally divided along male/female lines: men pray three times daily, while women don’t have to; men put on tefillin, while women do not. Some women’s recent efforts to observe the religious privileges they’re exempt from have made ripples in the Jewish world, and even the news.

But what if we told you that the foundation for all this was wrong? That Judaism recognized not two, but as many as six genders? The Mishnah describes half a dozen categories that are between male and female, such as saris or ailonit — the terms refer to an non-reproductive version of the male or female body, respectively — and categories that refer to ambiguous or indeterminate gender.

Although these terms seem to provide the refreshing view that a binary view of gender in Judaism is relatively recent, a closer look shows that Mishnaic rabbis were apt to privilege maleness in the case of indeterminate or multiple genders. But contemporary scholars like Rabbi Elliot Kukla are repurposing that halakhic discourse to provide a road map for our recognition of non-binary people in today’s Judaism. Gender-neutral restrooms start to look like small potatoes."

about 8 hours ago

"More than 100 activists and artists affiliated with community groups from throughout the city gathered at the Brooklyn Museum this morning to protest its hosting of the 2015 Brooklyn Real Estate Summit. Beginning at 7:30am, protesters were stationed at the Washington Avenue entrance to the museum’s parking lot — through which most summit attendees and speakers arrived — and on Eastern Parkway in front of the museum.

“The Brooklyn Museum should never have booked the summit,” Alicia Boyd, a member of Movement to Protect the People, told Hyperallergic. “Don’t tell me that you’re not aware of the suffering that’s going on in your community. You should never have done that.”

The demonstration was organized by the Brooklyn Anti-gentrification Network (BAN) and brought together members of organizations who are part of its network, a constellation of groups working on gentrification and related issues including police brutality, homelessness, and community gardens. Crying chants including “If we don’t get no housing, they don’t get no peace” and “Fight, fight, fight — housing is a human right,” the protesters spoke with and handed leaflets to passersby. At the parking lot entrance they booed summit attendees (and a few museum employees) as they arrived."

about 8 hours ago

"The moment of thanks-giving is often accompanied by thoughts of those who did not survive to get there, as the Puritans no doubt remembered the half of their number who perished that first winter preceding the first Thanksgiving.

The moment is always accompanied by an obligation to assist others in similar need of refuge in times to come.

And that obligation continues from one generation to the next along with our reasons for being thankful.

So, we should all be cheered to learn that one of the more recent refugees to visit Plymouth Rock was 9-year-old Danny Elamri, formerly of Syria.

Until March of 2014, Danny and his family had been living in Damascus. He has a sister named Tia, who is three years younger. Their father, Basso Elamri, owned a travel agency. Their mother, Amira Elamri, taught elementary school.

The family had obtained a visa to come to America in 2013, but, in the mother’s words, “We didn’t want to use it until we saw there was no way we can stay in Syria anymore.”

“They love being safe, they love being in America,” the mother says. “They didn’t have a normal childhood before.”

The danger grew ever more dire.

“You never know when a missile or a bomb will just explode,” the mother says. “There is no place that is safe. No place.”

When there were explosions, the parents would try to convince Danny and Tia that the blast was too far away to have been a real threat.
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“We kept telling them, ‘It’s not close,’ and we kept them distracted,” the mother recalls.

The daughter would just clap her hands over her ears.

“It’s very hard to explain to a child,” the mother says.

The family learned to get by without electricity or running water. The parents continued to go to work. The kids continued to go to school. But there was always the fear that they might not see each other again.

“You never know,” the mother says. “Every second when you go out you have to pray you will come back home and be safe.”

In the spring of 2014, they knew the time had come.

“When we decided to leave, it was just like the end,” the mother says.

The family landed in America with only what they could bring on an airliner.

“We arrived with three suitcases,” the mother reports. “That’s all.”

The father has a brother who lives in Massachusetts and they settled in Watertown. They scraped by on their modest savings until they got work permits.

They then set to building a new life with the spirit that has always made America great, the spirit of the refugees who have come here.

“Before, I thought life must be ending,” the mother says. “You always have to have hope and stand up on your feet and work and you will fulfill a lot.”

As they neared their first holiday season in America, the son went with his third-grade class on a field trip to Plymouth Rock. He came home and excitedly told his parents everything he had seen and learned.

“He informed us a lot about the Pilgrims and what they did and the first Thanksgiving, how they arrived here and what the ship was called,” the mother says. “He was the one who taught us everything.”

The Elmaris then had their own first Thanksgiving. “We had turkey and mashed potatoes and green beans,” the mother said. “It was really good.”

They were the most thankful of families just to be in America.

“We are really thankful, in a safe place where we’re all together, the four of us,” the mother says. “We’re happy and we’re safe and that’s the most important thing.”

Danny and Tia were the happiest of kids.

“They love being safe, they love being in America,” the mother says. “They didn’t have a normal childhood before.”

One continuing effect of their previous life is that where other 9-year-olds might be watching the likes of Nickelodeon, Danny is forever watching the news.

“He wants to know everything that’s going on in the world,” the mother says. “I think he grew up faster than he should have.”

He has learned a hard lesson early on.

“Life is not fair,” the mother says.

Six-year-old Tia even likes the New England winter.

“My daughter loves snow,” the mother says. “It’s funny how she loves it.”

This month, the mother attended the annual Thanksgiving luncheon held by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. Other guests included Gov. Charlie Baker, who had been asked earlier in the day for his views on admitting Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris.

“No, I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria,” he had said.

Baker would have done well to have chatted with Amira Elamri.

“These refugees are just people who by war lost everything,” she told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “They’re not ISIS. Refugees are people who are afraid of ISIS. They left Syria because they were just seeking peace and a life for their kids.”

She could have been talking about the Pilgrims her son learned about when he visited Plymouth Rock. The Elamris were now coming to their second Thanksgiving in America. The mother was certain that it would be only wonderful."

about 12 hours ago


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06 November 2015
History, Humanities

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Nikola Tesla is now an icon of popular culture, a symbol of the brilliant and eccentric scientist, the inventor ahead of his time and misunderstood. Books and documentaries tell the fascinating story of Tesla’s life and he also appears as a fictional character in films and comics. His mythic stature has been reinforced, the superhero of science facing down the villain Edison. However, are all the inventions attributed to him actually real? We review his greatest personal achievements, his contributions to collective breakthroughs and his ambitious ideas that he never managed to implement."

about 15 hours ago

Wine. In a can. For men.
By Marilyn La Jeunesse1 day ago

First there was wine in a bottle. Then there was wine in a box. Now, there is wine in a can.

But, not just any can — a MANCAN.

Although it's not the first canned wine on the market, California based company MANCAN has created one of the first ever man-specific wine products, or so it professes.

See also: How to drink wine like your favorite 'Game of Thrones' lushes


MANCAN wants to make wine more portable.


MANCAN founder Graham Veysey tells Mashable that he first thought of the product after visiting a bar one night after work.

"I had been working on a construction site all day, was covered in drywall dust, and met up with a buddy at a bar," Veysey says.

While his friend ordered a tallboy beer, Veysey was in the mood for wine, but didn't want to fret with a wine list or risk a bottle that had been sitting half-opened at the bar.

"I also wasn’t in the mood for stemware and wanted something casual that didn’t break the bank," he recalls. "That was the night MANCAN was born."

The brand's tagline is "shut up and drink."

Veysey notes that the main inspiration for MANCAN was to simplify wine consumption. He also hopes that wine in a can prevents easily spillage from cups and glasses wine is traditionally served in.

"We are using a vessel that makes the wine more portable, casual and is better for the environment, as cans are 35 times lighter than bottles and far easier to recycle," Veysey says. Each can has a special lining to prevent the wine from ever touching the aluminum, thus preserving the taste. "Unlike bottles, light doesn’t infiltrate MANCAN (or any cans), and we use a special process in our canning line that displaces oxygen.""

  • , print culture, and the
Nov 26, 15


'Israel' removed from Jordan's census forms

Jordanian officials cede to pressure and remove 'Israel' as possible place of birth on forms of upcoming census, after inclusion led to major outcry in the Hashemite Kingdom.

Roi Kais
Published: 11.25.15, 23:12 / Israel News

Jordanian census officials were forced on Tuesday to remove Israel as a possible place of birth from census forms due to a huge public uproar on social network sites.

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For the first time in 11 years, Jordan will conduct a census at the end of November, the sixth since its founding.

Public figures, politicians and trade unions called for a boycott of the census, arguing that the reference to Israel erases the Palestinian identity and indicates a normalization of relations with Israel and the Jews.

"The word Palestine must be written in place of Israel in accordance with the historical and political truth and in accordance with public opinion, which is against normalization of relations with Israel," said the Jordanian Communist Party in a statement.

Sign on door stating:"We are a respectable family and don't recognize the State of Israel"
Sign on door stating:"We are a respectable family and don't recognize the State of Israel"

"This is what can be heard on the streets of Jordan and it is impossible to concede on this at any time," said the chairman of the rebels' trade union in Jordan, Hussam Musa.

Jordanians are also expressing their bitterness on social network sites and many threatened not to welcome the employees of the Central Bureau of Statistics, despite the threat of fines and even jail time for those who disrupt the census.

The logo for the upcoming Jordanian census
The logo for the upcoming Jordanian census

"I only recognize Palestine and know that a cancerous and contaminated entity occupies it," said Harith Hamdan, another Jordanian opposed to the inclusion of Israel on the census form.

A photo was posted online of a sign hung on a house door which said: "We are a respectable family and don't recognize the State of Israel."

Dr. Mahlad al-Umari, a spokesman for the census bureau, responded Tuesday to the public outcry saying that there was no "politicization or normalization" with the inclusion of Israel. Even the Jordanian government's official spokesman, Mohammed al-Momani, was questioned with regard to the issue and he said that the census was "devoid of a political dimension" and urged citizens to cooperate "in the national interest."

But public pressure won out and on Tuesday the census spokesman announced that the option of Israel as a place of birth had been removed from census forms. "There are only six options besides Jordan - Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya," he said.

The Communist Party welcomed the decision: "Officials corrected their historical and serious mistake."


Nov 26, 15

"November 24, 2015 By
Dr. Turi King giving her talk on the discovery of Richard III at the 'Making the Medieval Relevant' conference

Dr. Turi King giving her talk on the discovery of Richard III at the ‘Making the Medieval Relevant’ conference

I’ll Eat My Hat If It’s Richard: Dr. Turi King on the Impact of the Richard III Project

Last, but certainly not least, we conclude our reports from the Making the Medieval Relevant Conference with a talk given by Dr. Turi King, the Canadian geneticist who confirmed the skeletal remains of Richard III found in September 2012. King discussed some of the more humorous circumstances surrounding Richard’s discovery, the science behind the dig, and the media onslaught that ensued. King is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in the genetics department at the University of Leicester.

Finding Richard wasn’t without its trials and tribulations. What was initially supposed to be a two week preliminary dig, turned into a two and a half year odyssey for King and the team. While there were numerous books, and a documentary, that recorded the two year long process from the parking lot in Leicester to the genetic match between Richard III and two modern day descendants, King shared with us what the cameras didn’t capture: personal reflections, the way the find impacted her life, and some of the bizarre things she had to deal with once the discovery went public.

Richard III: What Were We Looking For?

Philippa Langley, secretary of the Scottish branch of the Richard III Society, and the Leicester City Council, managed to raise funds to support a dig to try and locate Richard’s remains in Leicester – his last known burial location. Once a team from the University of Leicester had been cobbled together, they decided how to go about searching for this long lost king. They established that they were looking in the choir of the Greyfriars in Leicester for a man who was thirty-two years old when he died and who had possible scoliosis. Basically, this was a historical missing persons case. Rumour, conjecture and local folklore all complicated the search, as many people had different theories as to Richard’s whereabouts.

In 1538, during the height of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the location of Richard III’s grave was obscured after he was buried in the Greyfriars church. In 1610, cartographer John Speede (1552-1629), described Richard III’s grave at the church, as ‘overgrown with weeds’. Using a combination of primary sources, old maps of Leicester, and ground penetrating radar, they got to work hunting for Richard. They put in two trenches, and began to dig thinking there was no way they would find him. In fact, head archaeologist Richard Buckley famously repeated that he’d eat his hat if they found Richard. At the end of the dig, Buckley kept his word: the dig team made a cake in the form of a hardhat for him to eat!
Richard III Car Park dig

Richard III Car Park dig

A Remarkable Discovery"

Nov 25, 15

"Ancient sites in contested areas are more vulnerable to looting and destruction than those in ISIS-controlled territory.
Picture of Murad Pasha caravanserai

Airstrikes in June by the Syrian government are reported to have severely damaged this archeological museum housed in a 16-century caravanserai in the city of Maaret al-Numan, in an area controlled by opposition forces.

Photograph by Ghaith Omran, AFP, Getty Images
By Andrew Lawler, National Geographic

PUBLISHED Wed Nov 25 12:00:00 EST 2015

Videos of Islamic State militants shattering ancient statues and blowing up classical temples have shocked the world. But according to a new analysis of satellite images by U.S. archaeologists, these high-profile acts obscure the actual extent of damage to Syria’s rich cultural heritage.

The team examined images of 1,450 ancient sites across the shattered nation and found that one in four has been damaged or looted in the civil war that began in 2011.

More than half of those sites are in rebel-controlled areas, followed by those dominated by Kurdish forces. Damage at sites claimed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, accounts for a quarter of the destruction, with the remainder in areas loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“It is quite evident that overall incidents of looting are much higher in Kurdish and opposition-held areas than in either Syrian regime or ISIL areas,” said Jesse Casana, a Dartmouth University archaeologist who is leading the analysis.

This finding should not be surprising, given that looting tends to spike in places with no civil authority, Casana told a gathering of the American Schools for Oriental Research in Atlanta earlier this month. Contested areas, such as those around the ancient city of Aleppo, have suffered even more extensively than sites under ISIS control."

Nov 25, 15

"Western NGOs routinely violate all pretense of neutrality when they get into Israel-bashing mode. Why do they do it? Old fashioned bigotry is part of it, but it may also be a psychological release related to the real tyrannies whose crimes they ignore
Not on CARE'S radar
Dexter Van Zile"

Nov 25, 15

"Denmark loves bike lanes so much, they’re building one on top of a skyscraper.

Copenhagen Gate is a spectacular plan to link disparate parts of the Danish capital’s regenerating harbor, using a suspension bridge designed especially for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s the bridge’s supports that make it groundbreaking. The span will hang between a pair of mixed residential and office towers located on opposite piers at the harbor mouth.

Designed along with the towers by American architect Steven Holl, the bridge will cross between the towers not at water level, but at a height of 65 meters (213 feet). This elevation will provide spectacular views of the city and create a new visual gateway to Copenhagen for passengers arriving at the city’s cruise ship terminal. After winning a competition 2008, Holl’s twin towers and bridge are finally due to start construction in 2016.

Nov 25, 15

"In 2014 the State Library completed a major project to conserve and digitize one of the Commonwealth’s greatest treasures, William Bradford’s manuscript titled Of Plimoth plantation. Bradford (1590-1657) was one of the original Mayflower passengers, arriving in what is now called Plymouth in 1620. Ten years later, he started to write an account of the Pilgrim’s history and travels, starting in England, moving to the Netherlands, crossing the Atlantic, and then their first thirty years in Massachusetts. He stopped writing his narrative in 1650, and ended the volume in 1659 with a descriptive list of the Mayflower passengers and their status at the time.

The volume’s history is long and complicated, but can be summarized in a few points:"

Nov 24, 15

"A study of ancient DNA has shed new light on European genetic history.

It confirms that farming spread across Europe due to the influx of ancient people from what is now eastern Turkey.

Many modern Europeans owe their taller stature to these early farmers - and a later influx of Bronze Age "horsemen" - say international researchers.

In the study, researchers mapped the genes of 273 ancient people who lived in West Europe and Asia from about 8,500 to 2,500 years ago.

Of these, 26 were part of a population that gave rise to Europe's first farmers.

Prof Ron Pinhasi of the School of Archaeology at University College Dublin, a lead researcher on the study, said: "We now have the first clear evidence that agriculture in Europe started with the first farmers coming from what is now Turkey.

This paper is taking our journey back in time ever further. It is looking at our genes and how the interactions and innovations through history have shaped who Europeans are today
Eppie Jones, Trinity College Dublin

"This is very exciting because there's been a dispute for the last 40 years over whether that's the case or not.

"Some have argued that it was diffusion of ideas but not of people. We now have the evidence that it was actually movement of people."

The study, published in the journal, Nature, adds to growing evidence that two events in prehistoric times have had a big impact on the genetic make-up of modern Europeans.

The first was the arrival of an ancestral "tribe" of early farmers from Anatolia around 8,500 years ago.
Image copyright Fokke Gerritsen Image caption Ancient DNA was extracted from 230 ancient Eurasians

The later arrival of a tribe of ancient "horsemen" in Bronze Age times also shaped the genes of modern Europeans.

Both had an influence on the way genes for skin colour, eye colour and susceptibility to various diseases were shaped in prehistoric times.

Two populations appear to have had an impact on the height of Europeans - early farmers and horse-riding herders called the Yamnaya who entered Europe from the eastern Steppe region - in present day Ukraine and Russia - about 5,000 years ago.

Prof Pinhasi told BBC News. "Early farmers were already tall when they came into Europe.

"Part of the modern day higher stature - for example in Northern Central Europe - has its origins in the first farmers coming from Turkey into Europe."
Ancient tribes

Most modern Europeans have a genetic make-up that suggests they are descended from three ancient "tribes" - western hunter gatherers, early European farmers and "horsemen" known as the Yamnaya.

The first layer of European ancestry, the hunter-gatherers, entered Europe before the Ice Age 40,000 years ago.

But 7,000 years ago, they were swept up in a migration of people from the Middle East, who introduced farming to Europe, followed 2,000 years later by the Yamnaya.

Eppie Jones of Trinity College Dublin, co- researcher on the study, said: "This paper is taking our journey back in time ever further.

"It is looking at our genes and how the interactions and innovations through history have shaped who Europeans are today.""

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